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City Council meeting introuces water concerns

By: Carol Percy, Reporter Lincoln News Messenger
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Although Lincoln Police Officer Steve Krueger made for some light moments during Tuesday’s City Council public comment portion, the meeting’s mood would soon turn serious with two potentially alarming subjects.

Krueger spoke during the public comment portion to request the community’s support for a Lincoln PAL (Police Activities League) April fundraiser to be held at Thunder Valley Casino.

And on his way to the podium, Krueger brought a new friend with him.

“I’m sure I looked grumpy”, the officer said, “but this little boy looked me right in the eye, shook my hand and said, ‘My name’s Arten Olfat and I’m a world citizen.’”

Olfat is a 6-year-old who introduced himself to Krueger right before Tuesday’s meeting began.

When Lincoln resident Jane Tahti took the podium during public comments, however, her comments took on a serious urgency as she addressed the state of Lincoln’s future water.

Tahti delivered her request to City Council in a clear, well-modulated voice — no rants, no accusations, just facts and the disquieting question: could Lincoln afford to have its future drinking water depleted and polluted by Teichert Inc’s strip mine operation a few miles out of city limits?

Tahti said that water reserves are already in question.

She cited the Sacramento Bee’s September 2012 report that named Placer County as one of seven California counties designated as a natural disaster area and read, “The U.S. Department of Agriculture declared Placer County to be a natural disaster area  . . .  opening the door for local farmers to seek assistance for drought-related losses.”

Tahti further quoted the Bee, saying that the Sierra Nevada snowpack has shrunk 66 percent of average, resulting in the “driest January-February period in recorded history in the Northern Sierra Nevada.”

What does this have to do with Teichert Inc.?

For the next 40 years, Tahti said, Teichert Inc. will strip mine for gravel about four miles north of Lincoln on about 1,000 acres of county farm land. To access the gravel, according to Tahti, Teichert Inc. removes all topsoil. When ground water begins to seep in at about 40 to 50 feet underground,  Tahti continued, the company pumps it out. Then Teichert diverts the water, now exposed to pollution and heavy equipment, to ponds or the local creek, Tahti told The News Messenger.

“Teichert shares a mutual aquifer with the city of Lincoln,” Tahti said. “And they’ll be groundwater de-watering for 24-hours a day for the next 42 years.”

Summing up, Tahti said she expects the city of Lincoln to ask that the 12-year-old groundwater data (Environmental Impact Report) should be brought up to date.

Lincoln Councilman Spencer Short added that “Teichert’s plan is to dewater their mining operation and our concern is that it will dewater our wells for municipal use.”

Both Tahti and Short planned on being at today’s 10 a.m. Placer County Planning Commission meeting at the Planning Commission Chambers, 3091 Country Center Drive, Dewitt Center, at the corner of Bell Road and Richardson Drive. On the agenda is a request by Teichert Inc. for an  extension of time for exercising the conditional use permit and variance associated with the previously approved Teichert Aggregate Facility.

The second somber discussion of the night was brought by Byron Chapman, also during the public comment portion of the regular meeting. Chapman, who is in a wheelchair, has spoken at a few Lincoln City Council meetings about disability issues.

On Tuesday, he spread out papers and photos on the speaker’s table- the artifacts of his quest to procure adequate facilities for the disabled in Lincoln, he said.

Chapman began by telling city officials that he was tired of what he perceived as their lack of interest.

“I’m going to cut to the chase,” Chapman said. “This is how the matter with the city of Lincoln is going to be.”

Chapman told them that he was planning to sue the city for not complying with state laws mandating that public buildings be made accessible to disabled persons.

“The city of Lincoln — you are toast,” Chapman challenged. “All I can say is — get ready. This is not a Byron Chapman fight against the city of Lincoln; it’s a fight for the disabled community.”

Chapman listed many ways the city has not complied with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) laws, starting with McBean Pavilion. He said the parking lot and the restrooms in the facility are not ADA-accessible.

Chapman read what he called his step-by-step plan of what would happen next, ending with him hiring a disabilities attorney and suing the city for lack of compliance with ADA law.

Chapman told the Lincoln council to call Dixon Mayor Jack Bachelor, saying “that town found out the hard way” that he meant business. Chapman said he sued the city of Dixon and won an award.

Lincoln city officials, including City Council members Peter Gilbert, Gabriel Hydrick and Paul Joiner, did not return The News Messenger calls asking for comment by press time Wednesday. Mayor Stan Nader and Short said they could not comment at this time.

The News Messenger called Bachelor Wednesday, who was not available for comment. But Steven Johnson, the city of Dixon’s human resource director-city clerk, said Wednesday that Chapman had sued the city of Dixon. Johnson added that Chapman agreed to dismiss the suit in April 2011 for a $14,000 settlement.